If you haven’t been paying attention this has been another bad year for Iowa floods. Heavy rains in the river basins have brought about repeated flooding around the state. The federal government has declared 47 counties disaster areas. Winneshiek County that holds Burr Oak is not included, but two neighboring counties are.
Laura Days at Burr Oak has had a bad streak of weather for the event and this year their weather troubles continued. Sadly I didn’t make it this year, but member Julie Miller did and she submitted this post. – SSU
Guest post by Julie Miller (who had the Little Quilts on the Prairie booth at Laurapalooza 2012)
This past weekend (Sat., June 22) my mom and I attended the Laura Days Festival in Burr Oak. Although the attendance was down slightly from other years due to the cool, wet weather, it was a fun day for all with many activities. By the afternoon parade, the weather was sunny and warm, approaching the 80s. It never did rain during the day! The kids had fun participating in games and activities such as tug-of-war, three-legged race, making corncob dolls, churning butter, rope-making, and I had a table for kids to make their own quilt block and to play with toys.
But the overshadowing theme of the day was that everyone was talking about was the rain. That Friday morning, the Burr Oak area had received three inches of rain, and then got another three inches (at least) of rain early Saturday morning. A large piece of a bridge (not the one from the park behind the museum – maybe 15-20 feet long) had washed away from at least a block north and landed right on the back of the museum park grounds overnight! Luckily at the time it barely missed hitting the museum’s curved bridge that goes over the creek to the playground. The creek was flooded and rushing with water by Saturday morning. It was decided that it was dangerous enough that even if an adult happened to fall in the creek, they’d be washed away. So the creek was roped off and some of the kids’ activities were moved up the hill a little way. My mom and I left for home late Saturday afternoon.
I called the museum yesterday (June 27) to get an update on things. Unfortunately, Barb Olson told me that Burr Oak got an additional 5-6 inches of rain Saturday night into Sunday morning. So Burr Oak got a total of 11 inches in three days! The good news is that the museum hotel was not damaged (a couple inches of water were in the pantry, but was easily cleaned up). Thank heavens, it’s up the hill far enough. But, the Visitor’s Center received 2 1/2 ft. of water in the basement, which ruined the furnace (that also runs the air conditioner). The two sump pumps down there couldn’t keep up. Everything else in the
basement was kept on higher shelves. But, it was a different story in the park behind the museum. Barb was guessing that the water got to within 15-20 feet of reaching the museum hotel. The long piece of bridge that had been swept there already at least partially damaged the museum’s bridge. The playground equipment will all have to be replaced (and possibly the bridge). Trees are damaged. The flooding took big rocks/boulders and landed them on the museum grounds (many too large to be picked up by a human’s hands) and a lot of trash as well. The stage that was set up under the large tent was swept away. Some people from the wrestling team of Luther College came and found the stage and moved it up to higher ground (Thank you wrestlers!). The church service Sunday morning was moved. The flooding in 2008 was bad but clearly did not do as much damage.
So the Burr Oak Park and Museum needs help! They can’t even survey all the damage until the water goes down (there is still a “pond” at the moment). The museum will be holding fundraisers to pay for the repairs/new furnace sometime in the future. (Watch their website for more info ). Let’s try to pull together and help them! Anyone have ideas? What would Laura do??
If you wish to donate to help Burr Oak deal with this disaster, a donate button appears on their website. Or you can send a check to:
Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum
3603 – 236th Avenue
Burr Oak, Iowa 52101